Consumo de maíz por poblaciones nativas de Mendoza (centro-oeste argentino) y su relación con las condiciones ambientales

AutorAlejandro Garcia y Eduardo Martínez Carretero
CargoCIGEOBIO (CONICET-Universidad Nacional de San Juan)/Geobotánica y Fitgeografía (IADIZA-CONICET)
M : -,  5
ISSN 0327-9375
ISSN 1852-7329 on-line
Corn consumption in native populations of Mendoza
(central-western Argentina) and its relation
to environmental conditions
Consumo de maíz por poblaciones nativas de Mendoza (centro-oeste argentino)
y su relación con las condiciones ambientales
A G  E M C
1 CIGEOBIO (CONICET-Universidad Nacional de San Juan)
2 Geobotánica y Fitgeografía (IADIZA-CONICET)
A
In this article we analyze data on hydroxyapatite δ13C and δ15N from dated human bones, in
order to evaluate the variability of corn eating, the possible incidence of the Little Ice Age (LIA)
environmental changes on the regional production and consumption of this cereal by the native
populations of central-western Argentina. We also evaluate whether or not the average curves
are representative of sub-regional situations. Our results show that: a) the regional δ13Cap and
δ15N curves are only partially representative for the situations recorded in San Juan and Men-
doza. b) When considering the diverse environments of Mendoza, the provincial average curves
and the sub-regional ones show signicant dierences. c) ere are no signs of a drastic decrease
in maize consumption during the Inca period. d) e decline in maize consumption appears
in only one sub-region of Mendoza province during ca. 1777-1808 AD and no environmental
incidence was detected.
R
En este artículo se analiza la información isotópica de δC13 (hidroxiapatita) y δN15 de huesos
humanos, a n de evaluar la variabilidad del consumo de maíz, la posible incidencia de los cambios
ambientales de la Pequeña Edad del Hielo sobre la producción regional y el consumo de este
cereal, y si las curvas promedio son representativas de las situaciones zonales. Nuestros resultados
indican que: a) las curvas δCap13 y δN15 son sólo parcialmente representativas de las situaciones
regionales registradas en Mendoza y San Juan. b) Cuando se consideran los distintos ambientes de
Mendoza, la curva promedio provincial y las subregionales muestran diferencias signicativas. c)
No hay evidencias de un descenso drástico del consumo de maíz durante el período incaico. d) La
6 A. García & E. Martínez Carretero
I
Central-northern Mendoza is the south-
ern boundary of the dispersion of pre-
hispanic cultivation of maize in the arid
Argentinean west (Gil 1997-1998; Gil et
al., 2010, 2014). e presence of corn in
the native food was already highlighted
in the mid-twentieth century by Canals
Frau (1946), at a time when regional ar-
chaeological and documentary research
was in its early stage and the available
information was very scarce. Subsequent
works allowed for the broadening of
this vision and registering the presence
of other plant resources in the local diet
(e.g., Bárcena et al., 1985, Durán & Gar-
cía, 1989; García, 1992). Maize has been
registered only in two sub-regions of
Mendoza. In the Huentota Valley maize
remains appeared at the Memorial de la
Bandera site (Chiavazza, 2015), associat-
ed with a date of 1230 ± 60 BP (LP 2644).
In the pre-Andean valleys and the neigh-
boring eastern precordilleran sector, the
ndings were more numerous. In Cueva
del Toro, corn appeared in contexts cor-
responding to the period 600-1530 AD
(García, 1988); in Los Conitos 1 and 2
(Cortegoso, 2006) it was part of contexts
dated between 1050 ± 40 (Uru 0250) and
1560 ± 50 BP (Uru 0251); in San Ignacio
(Gasco et al., 2011) appeared at a level
dated to 1310 ± 40 BP (Uru 0301), in El
Jagüelito Cave (García, 1992) with dates
of 1050 ± 80 (I 14291) and 980 ± 50 BP
(LP 309), and in Agua de la Cueva at a
level dated 1450 ± 40 BP (Beta 26248-1)
and other of an age between 1450 and
1530 AD (Durán & García, 1989). e
oldest record in this area comes from
the site Agua de la Tinaja (Bárcena et
al., 1985) and could be associated with a
date of 2340 ± 80 BP (Beta 8580).
Succeeding isotopic analyzes allowed
us to consider another type of evidence
(human bones) and infer the propor-
tion of corn in the indigenous diet of
Mendoza and San Juan (e.g. Gil et al.
2009, 2010). A recent regional trend
of hydroxyapatite δ13C (δ13Cap) points
out that the consumption of maize by
native groups in central-western Ar-
gentina (provinces of San Juan and
Mendoza) would have decreased since
the Inca times due to climatic changes
recorded between 1370 and 1750 AD
(Gil et al. 2014). is hypothesis com-
prises a number of components open
to discussion, including the represen-
tativeness of the proposed regional
curve, the decline in indigenous maize
consumption since the Inca period, the
incidence of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in
a drastic fall in maize production, and
the role of maize in the indigenous diet
change during Spanish conquest. An al-
ternative reading of the same database
oers a dierent vision for the province
of Mendoza and for the sub-regions
that contributed with samples for the
isotopic studies.
disminución del consumo de maíz aparece en una sola subregión de Mendoza, durante ca. 1777-
1808 d.C. y no se detectaron incidencias ambientales en la misma.
Key words: Central-western Argentina, diet,
environmental change, Inca, stable isotopes,
Little Ice Age, maize
Palabras clave: Centro-oeste argentino, dieta,
cambio ambiental, incas, isótopos estables,
Pequeña Edad de Hielo, maíz

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